One merit-based fellowship, providing a month-long residency during the summer season, is awarded each year to an emerging screenwriter who has demonstrated work in underrepresented communities. The Fellowship is by invitation only— candidates are selected by the Wassaic Project Film Committee.
Candidates interview with our Residency Director, Will Hutnick, and our Film Program Director, Liliana Greenfield-Sanders, prior to formal acceptance to the Screenwriter Fellowship program. These conversations give candidates a sense of the program, life in Wassaic, and an option to propose a potential “wish-list” of Visiting Critics and mentors based in the New York City or the Upstate New York region.
The mentor is tailored to the Fellow based on what they seek to accomplish from the residency and where they are in their project and career. The chosen mentor will provide feedback through phone conversations or visits to Wassaic or the NYC region. The residency concludes with a one-on-one meeting with the mentor to review the fellow's screenplay and receive final feedback. The fellow's films are also featured during our Summer Festival.
Meet our past Screenwriter Fellows.
Christopher Radcliff is an award-winning New-York based writer/director whose acclaimed short films include The Strange Ones and Jonathan’s Chest, both of which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and have gone on to screen at hundreds of festivals worldwide. He earned his MFA in Film Directing from Columbia University, where he also received the Ezra Litwak Award for Distinction in Screenwriting. He was a participant in the 2012 Berlinale Talents Script Station and the 2013 IFP Emerging Storytellers Program, as well as Cinemart 2016 at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, where he received the Fortissimo Films/Wouter Barendrecht Award for THE STRANGE ONES, a feature-length adaptation of the short film, co-directed with Lauren Wolkstein. The Strange Ones premiered at the 2017 SXSW Film Festival, where it received the Special Jury Award. In addition to his work as a writer/director, he frequently works as an editor in both narrative and documentary film. His credits include: Easy Living (2017), collective:unconscious (2016), Weiner (2016), Monster in the Mind (2016), God Loves Uganda (2013), and 16 Acres (2012).
Lauren Wolkstein is a NYC-based filmmaker originally from Baltimore, Maryland. Her award-winning short films include Social Butterfly (2013 Sundance Film Festival), Cigarette Candy (2010 SXSW Grand Jury Prize) and The Strange Ones co-directed with Christopher Radcliff (2011 Sundance Film Festival). Lauren and Christopher adapted The Strange Ones into their first feature film of the same name, starring James Freedson-Jackson and Alex Pettyfer, which world premiered to critical acclaim at the SXSW Film Festival in 2017. Lauren also recently completed collective:unconscious, a collaborative feature spearheaded by Dan Schoenbrun (with directors Josephine Decker, Lily Baldwin, Daniel Carbone, and Frances Bodomo), which was the first omnibus to premiere in the Narrative Feature Competition at SXSW in 2016. She was named one of the top twenty-five emerging filmmakers through The Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Independent Filmmaker Project’s inaugural Emerging Visions program at the 2011 New York Film Festival. Filmmaker Magazine listed her as one of the “25 New Faces of Independent Film” in 2013. Lauren received her MFA in film directing from Columbia University and is an assistant professor of Film and Media Arts at Temple University.
Mark Elijah Rosenberg, Head of Rooftop Films (Ad Inexplorata).
Desiree Akhavan, Iranian-American filmmaker, is the writer/director/star of Appropriate Behavior, which premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. She’s also the co-creator and star of the award-winning web series The Slope, a comedy about a pair of superficial, homophobic lesbians in love. Desiree was recently as one of Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film” and will appear on the next season of Girls. She has a BA from Smith College and an MFA from NYU’s Grad Film Program.
Desiree Akhivan joined us in the Hamlet during September of 2014. Her films were featured in the 2014 Summer Festival. The Screenwriting Fellowship is by invitation only made by our Film Committee.
Photos by Verónica González Mayoral